The newest show in the Star Wars universe, The Acolyte, is nearly upon us. Set during the High Republic, a century before the events of the prequel films, The Acolyte will introduce fans to a new group of Jedi. However, readers of the High Republic novels and comics will see at least one familiar face: Vernestra Rwoh (Rebecca Henderson). This Mirialan Jedi already has a storied history within the High Republic books. So, let’s look at the Star Wars moments that shaped Vernestra Rwoh. 

Which Star Wars High Republic Books Does Vernestra Rwoh Appear In?

Vernestra Rwoh in High Republic books and in The Acolyte TV series
Lucasfilm/Giuseppe Camuncoli/Cavan Scott/James Towe/Marvel Comics

Vernestra Rwoh appears in several High Republic books for adults, young adults, and middle-grade readers. She is also in issues 2-5 and 15 of Cavan Scott, Ario Anindito, and Mark Morales’s Star Wars: The High Republic (2021) comic book series published by Marvel. I don’t want to overburden you with every possible detail about Vernestra’s publication history. So I will tell you that the core of her story is told in middle-grade books A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland and Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel José Older. We also get her story in YA novels Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland and Defy the Storm by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton.

She also appears in two short stories in the anthology, Tales of Light and Life. It provides connective tissue for Vernestra’s adventures outside the novels. The novels that Vernestra appears in are tied to major events that happen across all of the High Republic books. They all explore the Republic’s biggest battles from different perspectives. 

The History of Vernestra Rwoh

Vernestra, or “Vern” to her closest friends, is an alien of the Mirialan species, originating from the planet of Mirial. Mirialans have a variety of skin tones ranging from green, to yellow, to pink, and blue. Like Vernestra herself, many Mirialans have face tattoos. In The Acolyte, Vernestra sports tattoos on the outer corners of her eyes, as well as an intricate set on her scalp. Her scalp tattoos are a new addition to her character design. All her other appearances in High Republic books show her with her trademark purple hair. The Acolyte takes place a century after the current setting of the High Republic books. So there is probably a good reason for why Vernestra ditched her previous look. 

Among the Jedi, Vernestra is known as a wunderkind. She became a Jedi Knight at the age of fifteen, and took on her first Padawan, Imri Cantaros, at age seventeen. This made Vernestra one of the youngest Jedi Knights in the Order’s history.

Imri Cantaros/Avon Starros/Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing

Vernestra and Her Relationship With Her Jedi Master, Stellan Gios

The Jedi Master that Vernestra studied under was Stellan Gios, one of the most important Jedi in the High Republic. Stellan, a human, was immediately recognizable from his ornate blue lightsaber with a crossguard on it. His handsome looks made him popular on the holograms. But Master Gios had a reputation for rambling about minute Jedi lore and philosophy. In contrast to his best friend, the renegade Jedi Master Elzar Mann, Stellan was a traditional, by-the-books Jedi. He felt comfortable politicking where others shied away.

Unfortunately, in one of the most heartbreaking twists of the High Republic, Stellan Gios was killed in the destruction of the Republic’s Starlight Beacon base in the Outer Rim (as seen in The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray). He bravely refused to evacuate the base, instead piloting it in his last moments so others could flee. 

While Vernestra was no longer Stellan’s Padawan at the time of his death, his loss was devastating to her. Before his death, she had considered telling him that she had modified her own lightsaber so that she could use it as a light whip by turning a bezel on the hilt of her saber. This was going to be an important moment for her. In fact, she had procrastinated because she was nervous about how her traditional mentor might view such a modification. To make matters worse, in the destruction of Starlight Beacon, Vernestra also lost her Padawan, Imri Cantaros, who was declared missing after the incident. 

Vernestra’s Journey as a Wayseeker

To deal with her grief, Vernestra became a Wayseeker. It is more or less the Jedi Order’s version of a sabbatical. Wayseekers go off on their own to the furthest reaches of the galaxy to meditate and reshape their relationship with the Force. One crucial part about Wayseekers is that they are not beholden to act as ambassadors for the Jedi Council’s policies. As individuals, they can choose to get involved in political conflicts in the Outer Rim, if they believe that the Force wills them to. Vernestra went to the remote planet of Ibbe where she lived peacefully.

Jordanna Sparkburn/Avon Starros/Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing

Who are Vernestra Rwoh’s Friends?

That is, until her close friend, Avon Starros, arrived to ask her to help her find Imri Cantaros. Avon Starros is part of a larger network of allies that Vernestra has across the galaxy. A brilliant inventor, Avon is the daughter of Ghirra Starros, a senator of the Republic who defected to the villainous pirate group, the Nihil.

Vernestra is friends with another daughter of a Nihil member, Sylvestri Yarrow. Sylvestri’s mother, Chancey Yarrow, was mistakenly killed by Jedi Elzar Mann. This happened during the destruction of Starlight Beacon, as she was trying to prevent the base from crashing. Elzar’s poor judgment directly led to the death of his best friend Stellan Gios, adding an extra layer of tension between Vernestra and him. In the absence of her mentor, Vernestra grew close to Stellan’s other best friend, Jedi Master Avar Kriss. 

In addition, Vernestra has close ties to a member of the prominent and wealthy San Tekka family, Jordanna Sparkburn. The San Tekkas made their money as hyperspace prospectors, essentially seeking out “highways” that could be traveled safely through hyperspace. Vernestra’s connections to the San Tekka family would later elucidate her mysterious Force powers. 

Vernestra’s Powers, Abilities, and Lightsaber, Explained

Vernestra has special Force abilities that allow her to see “lanes” in hyperspace. She can also see visions of events taking place in other parts of the galaxy. Because of this, she can navigate a ship manually while in hyperspace without setting coordinates. In the Out of the Shadows novel, Vernestra had hyperspace visions of a long-lost member of the San Tekka clan, Mari San Tekka, who possessed similar hyperspace abilities.

Through a series of visions, Mari San Tekka instructed Vern on how to use her mysterious Force abilities. This eventually led Vernestra to where the elder San Tekka was held captive by the Nihil. While Stellan Gios had encouraged Vernestra to develop her unique Force abilities, she had been reticent to do so. But after learning from Mari San Tekka, Vernestra became more welcoming of her strange skills. 

Imri Cantaros/Avon Starros/Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing

As mentioned earlier, Vernestra Rwoh has a unique purple lightsaber in the Star Wars universe. It can transform into a light whip by twisting a bevel on the hilt. Vernestra uses her saber as a light whip particularly when she is fighting in close quarters, or is sustaining intense blaster fire. She can spin the whip at such a velocity that it acts as a shield against blasters. 

Thus far, we have only seen Vernestra Rwoh as a young Jedi Knight in the High Republic books and comics. Considering that she is a Jedi Master in The Acolyte and sporting a whole new look, there is lots more to her story that we haven’t yet seen. Did she ever take on another Padawan after Imri Cantaros? What became of her friendships with Jordanna Sparkburn, Avon Starros, and Sylvestri Yarrow? The Acolyte may not answer all of these questions, but it hopefully will build off of everything we already know about Vernestra Rwoh.